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CMS Issues Interim Final Rule Requiring Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations for Workers in Hospitals and Most Health Care Settings

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Thursday issued an interim final rule requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings, including hospitals, health system, long term care facilities, home health agencies, and hospices that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The rule is effective as of Nov. 5. Under the regulation, all eligible workers must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.

Also, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an emergency temporary standard requiring all employees at private businesses with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or get tested for COVID-19 weekly.

In the interim final rule, CMS establishes a Condition of Participation that:

  • Requires workers in health care settings to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.
  • Applies to all employees, including volunteers and students, in health care settings regardless of whether their positions are clinical or non-clinical.
  • Requires processes to be established for medical and religious exemptions.
  • Takes priority over other federal vaccine requirements in an effort to eliminate the unnecessary confusion and contradiction of multiple standards.
  • Preempts state law that would otherwise prevent a facility from complying with this rule.

Recommended next steps:

  • Please share this document with your organization’s leadership, quality and patient safety team, and compliance team.
  • Ensure that your organization has a process in place to implement this requirement, including a process by which to grant medical and religious exemptions.
  • Even though it is effective immediately, formal comments on the emergency regulation can be submitted by Jan. 4.
To view CMS’s press release, click here.
Click here to view the AHA Special Bulletin that includes a summary and key takeaways of the regulation.


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